Monthly Archives: January 2012

One size cannot fit all


The fascinating talks by Sir Ken Robinson (2006), in particular his  talk on ‘how schools kill creativity’, has got me thinking about education in terms of a ‘one size fits all’ set up.  Whereby education disregards the creative minded and results in them being tossed aside to feel they are just not clever simply because they do not fit into this narrow system. I really liked his comment on how children as they are growing are taught increasingly from the waist up,  with an emphasis on their heads and then slightly to one side (Robinson, 2006). Also his comment on how disconnected we have become from our own bodies and their wonderful creative capacity, for example as he points out is the case in many university lecturers (Robinson, 2006). Of course it is these very lecturers or teachers who are the primary source of knowledge in a University or school that believes in an information scarcity view of education.

When I think back to my experiences of being educated in Ireland it is interesting to apply this viewpoint. During my time studying I had a peer who was an A star student, she flew through school as she had the ability to regurgitate information and tick the boxes in terms of what the examiners wanted to see. But to be perfectly honest she was not a particularly good communicator and she was disinterested in any form of creativity. Another peer I knew on the other hand was a wonderful communicator, a very bubbly person who thoroughly enjoyed the arts, but she struggled throughout her education in the core subjects for example Irish and Maths. But through working very hard she completed all her exams. The first peer got accepted into a top teacher training school in Ireland the second did not purely based on her weakness in terms of the ‘core’ subjects. After finishing school she had a general feeling of failure, although sadly it was the system that had failed her not the other way around. Firstly surely an individual who has struggled throughout school but come out on top in the end would be more sympathetic  and better able to communicate effectively with the students than a teacher who has flown through school with no trouble at all. Surely what it boils down to is what Mr Robinson mentioned about the belief that there are two types of thinkers in the world creative and academic (Robinson, 2006). In this case as is often the case in a ‘one size fits all’ education system the Academic minded came out on top.

My question is, do you feel it’s right for these individuals who are the winners of a broken system to be ruling the majority of our education system and educating many of our children in the western world?

Additionally how is it fair as Sir Ken Robinson touched on for individuals to feel that ‘maths, and Irish’ should be the core subjects. One would have thought we have learnt enough about the multiple areas of intelligence and how it branches across many disciplines to appreciate the importance of other subject areas too. How intelligent an individual feels they are at school boils down to whether their type of intelligence fits in with the narrow box of what is being considered and assessed within that education system. Research by Dr. Howard Gardner (1999) proposed the theory of multiple intelligence which highlighted that peoples intelligence is far more complex than anything that can be measured by a simple IQ test. Dr Gardner indicated that there are eight different types of intelligence, logical mathematical, bodily kinaesthetic, visual-spatial, interpersonal (or emotional), intrapersonal, musical, verbal-linguistic and naturalist intelligence, Gardner (1999).

Clearly as Sir Robinsons (2006) talk and Gardeners (1999) evidence shows, it is time to utilize and embrace our creative capacities and multiple intelligences allowing them to flourish instead of being suppressed, as in the majority of children as they go through their education. Sir Robinson gave a good example of this by highlighting a study conducted on children’s ability to think of uses of a paper clip, whereby success rates decreased with increasing age Robinson (2006).

According to the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) each child has the right to an education that develops their “personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential’. But surely by implementing the ‘one size fits all’  education system this fundamental right is not being taken on board?



American Psychological Association (1996). Resolution on school dropout prevention. Washington, DC: Author.

Gardner, H. (1999). The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster

Robinson, K. (TED talks). (2006). Schools kill creativity. Available from

Convention on the rights of children (1989). U.N. General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25 (12 December 1989) with Annex Retrieved from



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